You Shouldn’t Ignore White Coat Hypertension
Some people experience white coat hypertension, when blood pressure is elevated in the doctor’s office but not in other settings. These patients need to monitor their blood pressure at home or wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor that takes your blood pressure every 30 minutes for 24 hours.
While white coat hypertension was formerly considered simple nervousness, recent research suggests otherwise.
A study published in the journal Hypertension found that people with white coat hypertension are at a significantly greater risk for developing sustained high blood pressure than people who have normal blood pressure. One possible explanation is that people with white coat hypertension have a harder time managing stress and anxiety.
Tips For Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes
If you suffer with high blood pressure, its easy to feel intimidated by the changes you need to make in order to improve your health. While some people may only need to work on one or two areas to reduce their blood pressuregetting more exercise or quitting smoking, for examplemost of us find that we need to improve our habits in at least 3 or 4 areas. But even if you smoke, drink heavily, are overweight, stressed out, sedentary, and eat nothing but junk and processed food, that doesnt mean you have to tackle everything all at once. Making lots of different lifestyle changes at the same time can be overwhelming. And when we feel overwhelmed, its easy to opt for doing nothing rather than doing something.
Start gradually and make one or two changes to begin with. Once those changes have become habit, you can tackle one or two more, and so on. For example, you may decide to start by giving up smokingand adopting some relaxation techniques to help with the stress of quittingthen move on to losing weight or improving your diet.
Lose the all or nothing thinking. Doing something, no matter how small, is always better than doing nothing. If youre eating healthy food during the week, for example, then resorting to takeouts at the weekends, your blood pressure and overall health will still be in better shape than if you were eating takeout every day.
Learn More About How Stress Affects Your Blood Pressure
While stress can be a part of life, regular stress that spikes your blood pressure is concerning. If youre worried about the effects of stress on your health, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Saint-Jacques by calling 646-381-2181. You can also request an appointment using the online scheduler, or you can send the team a message here on the website.
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Prospective Studies Of Anxiety Predicting Hypertension Risk
Eight prospective studies investigated the association between the baseline anxiety status and incident hypertension with a total sample size of 80,146 and 2,394 hypertension case subjects. Characteristics of the studies are shown in . The pooled adjusted HR by REM was 1.55 , with strong heterogeneity detected . No publication bias was detected .
Random effects meta-analysis of prospective studies of the association between anxiety and risk of hypertension .
Note: Weights are from random effects analysis.
Abbreviations: HR, hazards ratio CI, confidence interval.
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Other Ways Stress Causes High Blood Sugar
There are other ways that stress can lead to spikes in blood sugar. During periods of stress, people may participate in behaviors that could lead to high blood sugar such as emotional overeating of refined carbohydrates or foods that are high in added sugars. People may also fail to exercise or take their medications when theyre supposed to. Since stress has the ability to change healthy habits, these factors can all lead to elevated blood sugar levels.
Stress can also affect sleep because stress and sleep are both controlled by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. When a person is under high stress and the axis is encouraging the extra production of cortisol, changes in the axis occur. This leads to problems with getting quality sleep as well as changes in sleeping patterns. When a person isnt getting enough sleep, it can cause glucose intolerance, which describes metabolic conditions that cause high blood sugar levels.
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Temporary Spikes Are Not Dangerous
Those with chronic anxiety may be more prone to high blood pressure spikes, but the body does do a good job of adjusting and blood pressure often gets back to its normal rate for most of the day. You canât necessarily feel high blood pressure, and while any stress on the body can cause anxiety, itâs more likely that your anxiety causes the spikes than the other way around.
Itâs never a bad idea to speak with a doctor about your blood pressure concerns either. Only a doctor can tell you if there is something you should worry about. Also, remember that the more you worry about your blood pressure, the more anxiety youâll experience, and the more likely youâll suffer from these blood pressure spikes.
Everyone experiences anxiety. In fact, studies show Americans are more stressed out than ever.
But can stress and anxiety actually raise the level of your blood sugar? And what does this mean for those who have diabetes?
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How To Reduce Anxiety
First, lets be clear: If youre experiencing anxiety, we want to know about it. We care about much more than your physical health. We know that mental health is an important part of your overall well-being.
We care about our patients, and we are always in your corner, ready to help you.
Following are some useful tips for reducing anxiety:
- Any type of physical activity, even if its just a quick walk around the block during your lunch break.
- Reducing or eliminating your alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Getting enough sleep
If your anxiety continues for more than two weeks or if youre finding it difficult to complete everyday activities, you should consider talking to a counselor or psychologist who can provide help and direction. We can provide a referral if needed.
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S To Lowering Your Blood Pressure
The first line of treatment for high blood pressure is to make healthy lifestyle changes:
Its also important to take any antihypertensive medications your doctor recommends. There are many different types of medications available to control high blood pressure, so if one drug causes unpleasant side effects, your doctor can help you find a more suitable one.
Even if your doctor also prescribes you medication to help tackle hypertension, controlling your weight, quitting smoking, improving your diet, managing stress, and getting regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape and managing your blood pressure over the long term.
If youve just been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or have suffered a serious health event such as a stroke or heart attack, you may be experiencing a great deal of emotional upheaval. Its important to give yourself time to process the change in your health and be kind to yourself as you adjust to your new situation. But its also important to know there are plenty of things you can do to come to terms with your diagnosis and regain control of your health.
Can Treating Anxiety Lower Blood Pressure
Yes, treating anxiety that causes temporary spikes in blood pressure can be lowered with treatment. Medication and therapy are used to treat anxiety. Anxiety can be diagnosed by a primary care doctor or psychiatrist. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are typical first line medication treatment for anxiety. Can high blood pressure be temporary? Yes, treating anxiety with medication can lower blood pressure by reducing the temporary spike.
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Is There A Connection Between Anxiety And Blood Pressure
Yes, anxiety does have an effect on your blood pressure. Anxiety is part of the autonomic nervous system which controls the automatic functions of the body. These functions include tasks that you do not consciously think about, such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and temperature control. As our bodies react to stressful situations , our blood pressure increases and sometimes even decreases.
Continue reading to learn more about anxiety and blood pressure, including the causes of increased blood pressure and treatment options for both anxiety and high blood pressure.
How Stress Affects Your Blood Pressure
Your body produces more hormones when youre under stress, causing your heart to work overtime. As this happens, your blood vessels constrict, making it harder for the blood to flow properly. Unless you get treatment, or perhaps change some lifestyle habits, you could risk damaging your arteries. Over time, this can increase your chance of developing heart disease.
How Does Stress Affect Your Blood Pressure
In a stressful situation, your body reacts by releasing a surge of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood. These hormones are responsible for the fight or flight response. They make your heart beat faster and your blood vessels narrower, raising your blood pressure.
This effect on your blood pressure only lasts a short time. Once the stressful situation is over your blood pressure returns to its usual level.
High Blood Pressure Stress Symptoms
A huge number of people have high blood pressure without knowing it. They will not experience any noticeable symptoms.
It usually takes something called a hypertensive crisis to be reached before symptoms start becoming truly noticeable.
Anyone experiencing a hypertensive crisis needs immediate medical attention.
Whether these are high blood pressure stress symptoms or they are a result of very high blood pressure caused by other factors, they will be displayed in the same sorts of ways:
- Irregular heartbeats
Children in a hypertensive crisis may also experience Bell’s Palsy, whereby they will lose control of the muscles in part of their face.
As stress can cause sudden short spikes in blood pressure, it is not good for individuals who already have hypertension to experience it.
This makes efforts to reduce stress levels doubly important…
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Stress Raising Your Blood Pressure Take A Deep Breath
- By Naomi D. L. Fisher, MD, Contributor
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Stress is rampant, and high blood pressure is on the rise. So its no wonder patients often ask if stress is causing their hypertension. We have no proof that stress alone can cause persistently elevated blood pressure. But stress can certainly raise blood pressure, sometimes impressively. And stress reduction can lower blood pressure, frequently improving overall well-being. Deep, slow breathing is the oldest and best-known technique to decrease stress.
The relationship between stress and blood pressure Blood pressure regulation is highly dynamic, responding to many interacting factors, ranging from alcohol and sodium intake to sleep and hormone levels. Stress is a key player, with all sorts of stressors contributing to a rise in blood pressure. Stress revs up the autonomic nervous system. This system oversees processes generally not under conscious control, including blood pressure and heart rate, but also more mundane functions like sweating and flushing. The hormone adrenaline is a fundamental part of its response.
Medications To Manage Stress And Anxiety
Managing hypertension is really 70% lifestyle and 30% medications, Dr. Laffin says.
To start, expect your doctor to ask questions about your lifestyle and habits, including your sleep. I always talk to patients about the impact of sleep on heart health, and how stress impacts sleep, he adds.
You may also need to rely on medication to bring down your anxiety. But just like the ability to handle stress, what medication will work best varies from person to person and requires consultation with your healthcare provider.
If stress and anxiety are leading to a lot of blood pressure elevation, we can try medications called beta-blockers, Dr. Laffin says. Theyre not the first line of treatment for blood pressure in most people, but they can be helpful for people with significant stress and anxiety because they decrease your sympathetic nervous system activity and slow down your heart rate in stressful situations.
Other medications for bringing down blood pressure include calcium channel blockers and angiotensin receptor blockers. But its not all about medication. Remember: Theres no cure-all medication that will ensure a healthy heart, so its up to you to embrace a lifestyle that will help keep your ticker in tip-top shape.
To hear more from Dr. Laffin on this topic, listen to the Health Essentials Podcast episode Combating High Blood Pressure. New episodes of the Health Essentials Podcast publish every Wednesday.
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Stress Raises Blood Pressure Risks Of Heart Attack And Stroke Study Says
A new study shows stress can lead to high blood pressure.
The information may sound familiar, but most previous studies have focused on the effect of stress on existing hypertension.
The new study from Kyoto University in Japan suggests stress can cause the condition over time.
It can also increase your risk for stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.
Scientists say the reverse is also true. Reducing stress can lower the same risk factors.
According to the researchers, the key is to recognize stressful situations early and begin reducing them with breathing and relaxation techniques before they produce excess cortisol in your system.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps your body deal with stressful situations, but long-term increased levels can cause the problems outlined by the scientists.
The study was published in Circulation, a scientific journal of the American Heart Association.
Effects Of Stress On The Body
Cortisol, insulin, catecholamines, and even thyroid hormones help to ramp up your bodys ability to act in stressful situations.
If your stress becomes constant, your body does not have time to rebound from the stress overload.
This is called chronic stress, and it can lead to myriad health problems:
- High blood pressure
- Depression or anxiety
If you have chronic stress, you may have symptoms that extend just beyond mentally feeling overwhelmed.
You might also be more forgetful, have headaches, or a loss of focus.
You may be more tired than usual, feel nausea, have trouble sleeping, or deal with more aches and pains.
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Making Changes If You Have Anxiety Or Depression
If your high blood pressure is co-occurring with a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety, it can be even tougher to find the energy and motivation to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Just thinking about exercising or preparing a healthy meal, for example, can seem overwhelming. But by focusing all your efforts on one tiny change at a time, youll find that youre capable of more than you realized.
Take the first step. It could be as simple as going for a walk or downloading a meditation app or buying some nicotine patches. It can take time for lifestyle changes to register as a reduction in blood pressurebut sometimes they can improve your mood much sooner. Taking that first step is always the hardest.
Focus on small steps. Its easy to get overwhelmed by daily life when youre battling depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder. By taking small but positive steps each day, though, youll find that your energy and outlook will gradually start to improve. Once you feel happier and more positive, youll find it easier to forge ahead with lifestyle changes and see the results in both your blood pressure readings and your overall outlook and wellbeing.
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The Link Between Stress And High Blood Pressure
Stress management is necessary to help you deal with work, family, and social demands of a busy life. When you keep stress at bay, or at least learn to co-exist with it, it has less power over your health.
Management doesnt mean eating stress away or drinking alcohol to numb the discomfort. These behaviors contribute to health problems, including high blood pressure. In fact, a stressful situation can cause your blood pressure to rise especially in the short term.
But stress may also contribute to long-term high blood pressure. Though research isnt definitive, it cant hurt to manage your stress healthfully, and the team at South Plains Rural Health, with locations in Levelland, Lamesa, and Big Spring, Texas, is available to help. Read on to learn how stress and high blood pressure are connected and what you can do to manage both.
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Learning To Cope With Stress Can Help
Stress and hypertension have often been linked, but researchers are still looking into a direct relationship between the two. Still, the best advice to hypertensive patients: Try to relax.
When you are stressed, your body sends stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones create a temporary spike in blood pressure, causing your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. When the stressful situation is over, blood pressure goes back to its normal level.
Chronic stress, however, may cause your body to stay in this highly-charged state longer than natural.
While stress itself may or may not affect blood pressure, how you cope with stress does. For instance, overeating, smoking and drinking alcohol in response to stressful situations are direct causes of sustained high blood pressure. On the flip side, healthier coping mechanisms like exercising, practicing yoga and meditating can all help lower blood pressure.